Artose Pinner didn't know he would be the workhorse running back on Sunday, but he wasn't about to let the opportunity to exact revenge on his old team pass him by. See what Pinner had to say, in addition to getting over 30 notes that help tell the story of the game.
In his three years with the Lions, running back Artose Pinner
didn't put up what could be considered gaudy numbers. Active for just 28 of a possible 48 games and starting just six, Pinner ran the ball 202 times for 622 yards – an average of just 3.1 yards per attempt. His career high in rushing was 64 yards in a 2004 contest – and that took 23 carries to accomplish.
But, much like Joey Harrington
on Thanksgiving Day, Lions fans saw their best performance from one of their former players when he was on the visiting sideline. Pinner paced the Vikings' offensive attack by carrying 29 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns – all shattering his personal highs. What makes his story even more remarkable was that, had Chester Taylor
been able to play Sunday, Pinner likely wouldn't have been on the active roster.
"You always have to be prepared for anything," Pinner said. "I did know Chester wasn't going to play today. Somebody had to step up, and the thing is we didn't take advantage of a lot of things today. We left some points out there today. The offense didn't execute on some situations, but the defense did a great job and it was great to take some heat off of Brad (Johnson). The offense, we made plays when we had to."
"It was great; there were a lot of firsts today, as far as first three-touchdown game, first 100-yard game against a team that I used to play for. But what was more important was that it gives us a good chance to stay in the playoff race."
Pinner got himself in Brad Childress' doghouse with a pair of critical penalties on special teams that negated a Vikings kick return for a touchdown and negated an on-side kick the Vikings recovered in the final minute of their loss to Green Bay. He had been inactive the following three games. His place on the team had apparently been filled by Ciatrick Fason
, who looked good replacing Taylor when he was injured the previous week against the Bears.
Instead, Childress let it be known early in the game that the former Lion was going to get his chance to be the primary ball carrier instead of the aforementioned Fason or Mewelde Moore.
"You kind of go with the guy that's got the hot hand," Childress said.
When all was said and done, Pinner had 29 rushing attempts, while Fason and Moore combined for just nine. Through their first 12 games, the Vikings had just six rushing touchdowns. Pinner increased that by 50 percent Sunday alone, scoring three times.
While it is expected that Taylor will resume his role as the starting running back if his ribs are healed enough by the time the Vikings play the Jets next week, Pinner proved the Vikings right when they made him a Week 1 waiver pickup following the preseason. When the Vikings needed a rushing attack, it wasn't Fason or Moore who gave them the spark. It was the guy the Lions thought didn't have what it took to be a stud running back in the NFL.
"I left here knowing I did all I could do," Pinner said. "When Coach Childress brought me to Minnesota he looked me in the face and was like, 'I want you to help contribute to this team in someway, somehow.' If you look at the film, or if you look at the game today – I was inactive the last three or four weeks – I was on everything today. I wasn't going to let any opportunities pass me by. Kickoffs, punts, kickoff coverage - I was on everything."
Revenge is sweet. Harrington learned it on Thanksgiving. Pinner learned it Sunday, and the Vikings couldn't have needed it more than they did at Ford Field.
The records just keep falling for the Vikings run defense. They set a franchise record against Miami by holding the Dolphins to 4 yards rushing – seven of which were awarded by the league's statistical service after the completion of the game. Even so, it was a record for least rushing yards allowed by the Vikings and gained by the Dolphins. The following week, the Cardinals set a Vikings defensive record by attempting to rush just six times. The record book was re-written once again Sunday, as the Vikings held the Lions to minus-3 yards rushing – a new record for the Vikings and a new franchise low for Detroit.
The NFL may have to come up with a new way of determining how to rank defenses, because the stats didn't tell the full story of the game. The Vikings pass defense allowed 283 yards in the game – but 176 of those came in the fourth quarter. After three quarters, Detroit had just 107 yards of total offense.
The Vikings had one of their best days of the season on third downs, converting seven of 13 attempts. On one of the occasions that they didn't convert on third down, they made good on fourth down.
Even without Taylor, the Vikings were able to impose their will, rushing 44 of the 67 plays they ran and gaining 172 yards. The Lions ran 54 offensive plays, just 10 of them rushing plays.
The Vikings scored four touchdowns on six trips into the red zone, while the Lions went 0-for-2 in their trips into the Vikings red zone.
Brad Johnson didn't have a great statistical day – completing 14 of 22 passes for 159 yards with no touchdowns and one interception – but he completed passes to eight different players.
Four Lions had five receptions or more, led by Mike Furrey, who caught nine passes.
Chris Kluwe had one of his best days of the season, averaging 53.2 yards on four punts. Thanks to so many turnovers, the Lions punted just once the entire game.
One of the big concerns coming into the game was the coverage teams that had allowed two touchdowns in the last two weeks. While not oppressive, the Vikings limited Eddie Drummond to a 22.5-yard average on six kick returns and a 12.8 average on four punts returns.
E.J. Henderson went over the 100-tackle mark by leading the team with 14 tackles (nine solos), giving him 109 total tackles for the season. Nickel back Fred Smoot was second on the team with eight tackles (six solo).
The win for the Vikings was the 10th straight over Detroit and the sixth consecutive win for Johnson over the Lions as a starting quarterback, dating back to his days with Tampa Bay.
You have to wonder if Mike Martz's penchant for poor clock management is contagious. With the Vikings prepared to punt with two minutes to play in the game, the Lions called a timeout with 2:02 remaining. The question that they will likely have to answer, quite simply, is why? With the Vikings preparing to punt, letting two seconds roll off the clock would still leave the Lions with two time outs. Considering that the clock was going to stop after the return of the punt anyway, there was little to be gained and more to be lost by calling an ill-advised timeout in that situation.
Kevin Jones suffered a foot injury in the fourth quarter when he was stacked up by Kenechi Udeze and forced backward by Darrion Scott. He left the field on a cart and did not return to the game.
The Vikings didn't have their first punt of the game until 5:49 remained in the third quarter.
The NFL statistical review people may have another play to look at from this game. On a scramble when the pocket broke down, Kitna had his arm hit by Cedric Griffin and the ball went forward six or seven yards before being plucked out of the air by Kevin Williams. There is a chance the play, after being reviewed, may be ruled an interception since the ball went forward and never touched the ground.
Jones had a 1-yard run on his first carry of the second half, the first carry of the game in which the Lions had positive yardage.
How bad were things for Detroit's offense? They started the second half with a false start penalty and, despite having additional time to call their next play, were forced to call a timeout on first-and-15.
At halftime, the Vikings' domination of the Lions was about as one-sided as it could get. The Vikings ran 43 plays to just 17 by Detroit, out-gained them on the ground 150 to minus-12, out-gained them passing 121 to 80, held a time of possession edge of 22:09 to 7:51 and converted six of seven third-down opportunities.
In the first half, Johnson completed 10 of 15 passes for 124 yards while Pinner had 18 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Marcus Robinson led the team with three catches for 45 yards – a total that wouldn't change in the second half.
For the Lions, Kitna completed 9 of 14 passes for 80 yards in the first half, while Jones had three carries for minus-12 yards and Jones and Furrey each had three receptions.
The Lions got a break late in the first half when the Vikings tried a little trickery on a kick return. Bethel Johnson attempted a reverse to Charles Gordon, who dropped the handoff before picking it back up and racing to the 41-yard line. However, the officials said that Johnson was responsible for the fumble and, in the final two minutes of a half, only the player who fumbles the ball can advance it. The result of the play pinned the Vikings back on their own 9-yard line and they let the clock run out on the first half.
The battle of first-round busts was won by Troy Williamson over Mike Williams. Williamson caught two passes Sunday, while Williams was blanked. He did catch a pass, but it was negated by a penalty. Williams, who many Vikings fans thought should have been taken with the seventh pick of the 2005 draft instead of Williamson, has just one catch all season.
Jamar Fletcher's 88-yard interception return for a score was the first defensive touchdown scored by the Lions this year.
The Vikings have had two missed extra points this year – both against the Lions.
Johnson scored his first rushing touchdown since the 2001 season in the second quarter.
The Vikings dominated the first quarter by holding the ball for 10:55 and out-gaining Detroit 136-32. Pinner was the big man, rushing eight times for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
Kitna's interception in the first quarter marked the 11th straight game in which he has had at least one interception – the longest current streak of any NFL quarterback.
The Vikings' opening drive of the game took 14 plays and covered 80 yards in seven minutes.
The Vikings came into action Sunday leading the NFL in time of possession.
The Vikings went on fourth down on their opening drive of the game – the 19th time Brad Childress has opted to take a chance on fourth down. That also leads the league.
In the lead-the-league trifecta, the Vikings scored on their first possession for the 10th time in 13 games, also tops in the league.
Artis Hicks returned to the starting lineup at right guard after missing two games due to injury.
The FOX network didn't have much interest in this game, sending the game only to the local markets of Detroit and the Twin Cities and assigning Ron Pitts as play-by-play commentator and Jesse Palmer as analyst. Palmer, who played with the Giants briefly, is probably best known for his role on ABC's reality show "The Bachelor." It's good to see he is still getting work.